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Jackson mayor, council members oppose recreational marijuana in New Jersey

JACKSON – Municipal officials in Jackson have passed a resolution stating their opposition to the use of so-called recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

Township Council members commented on the issue and put their feelings on the record during a meeting on Sept. 25. Council President Ken Bressi, Councilman Scott Martin and Councilwoman Ann Updegrave voted to pass the resolution. Councilman Barry Calogero abstained.

State legislators in Trenton are considering introducing a bill which would, if passed in the Assembly and Senate and signed into law by the governor, legalize the use of recreational marijuana, which is also referred to as adult use marijuana.

The council’s resolution states that “although marijuana has been found to have medical benefits to patients receiving medical treatment and the governing body of Jackson supports the medical use of marijuana, the governor and Legislature are considering the legalization and taxation of recreational use marijuana in New Jersey.”

The resolution describes marijuana as a gateway drug that negatively effects the lives of Jackson residents.

“Many health professionals consider marijuana a ‘gateway’ drug and marijuana negatively effects the lives of the residents and children of New Jersey, and New Jersey uses drug recognition experts to determine whether someone is under the influence of a drug, including marijuana, when operating a motor vehicle and there is no current objective standard for operating under the influence of drugs like marijuana as compared to standards established for driving while intoxicated; and the enforcement of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs such as marijuana is very difficult.”

The resolution also mentions the opioid epidemic that has been in the news in New Jersey in recent years.

“The opioid epidemic is well known to residents of Jackson, the County of Ocean, and the state even though opioids are currently ‘legal’ and available by prescription, and has not been controlled and, in fact, has become an epidemic; and the governing body of Jackson finds that the legalization of the use of recreational marijuana would have a detrimental effect on the lives and health of the residents of Jackson and endanger our children.”

Martin said he spoke with representatives of Drug Free New Jersey about the issue.

“A 2015 study conducted by the Yale School of Medicine (found that) using marijuana makes a person two-and-a-half times more likely to abuse opioids, as if we already do not have a big enough problem,” he said.

Martin said that as an elected official he is outraged, and as a parent he is sickened by the prospect of legislation that would legalize marijuana in New Jersey and Gov. Phil Murphy’s expressed support of such legislation.

Bressi said he and Mayor Michael Reina had some discussions about the council’s resolution and he thanked the mayor for advancing the resolution.

Reina spoke with a group of residents at a Meet the Mayor event on Sept. 24 and one topic he discussed was recreational marijuana and the resolution the council was planning to act on the following evening.

“The governor wants to legalize recreational marijuana, right? Well that is just great, let’s just give illegals and everybody else with no driver’s license, let’s just give them recreational marijuana. When they hit the school bus, when they hit you crossing the street, when they hit your car, I wonder how that works out for you. There is no regulation in place,” Reina said.

The mayor made it clear he supports the use of medical marijuana, saying, “Medical marijuana, absolutely. Cancer patients, patients with MS, cannabis oils and anything like that, that can treat somebody who is ill, absolutely. Recreational marijuana, I am against it. I still think it is not healthy for a child to understand they can get it, smoke it and not get in trouble, and not be responsible for their action.”

Reina said he believes some marijuana penalties should be decriminalized. He said the resolution council members passed on Sept. 25 basically says that recreational marijuana has no place in Jackson.

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